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Exposure to low levels of PCBs during pregnancy may affect fetal growth

Smoking during pregnancy or ethnicity of the mother may modify these effects

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Exposure to low levels of PCBs during pregnancy may affect fetal growth

CREAL researchers, an allied ISGlobal centre, have just published in the journal Environment International that polychlorinated biphenyls, (PCBs, specifically PCB-153), which basically are found in fish and seafood, dairy products and oils and fats, can affect the weight of babies at birth.

Specifically, researchers have observed that the reduction in birth weight due to exposure to PCB-153 is about 200 grams and this association follows a linear relationship, ie, the greater the exposure to PCB-153 for the longest pregnancy reduced birth weight, having effects even at low doses of PCBs.

We have also found that reducing weight is given higher among children of non-Caucasian mothers or mothers who smoked during pregnancy. Maribel Casas, CREAL researcher and author of the article, notes that "the most susceptible to the effects of PCBs group are girls whose mothers smoked during pregnancy."

Casas adds that "today, pregnant women are exposed to low doses of these compounds and, therefore, it is important to know the effects they may have on fetal growth. This study highlights the effects of these compounds throughout Europe and represents an important platform for studying the potential effects of PCBs on child health".

The study used data from more than 9,000 pregnant women and their 11 birth cohorts across Europe. This study is part of 3 European projects (ENRIECO, BOYS and OBELIX) and follows a published study in which a meta-analysis, ie, each of the cohorts performed the statistical analysis separately (Govarts et al, EHP 2012). In this new study, researchers have gathered all the databases in a single allowing them to model the exposure-response relationship and explore potential effect modifiers.

Reference: Casas M, Nieuwenhuijsen M, Martinez D, Ballester F, Basagaña X, Basterrechea M, Chatzi L, Chevrier C, Eggesbo M, Fernández MF, Govarts E, Guxens M, Grimalt JO, Hertz-Picciotto I, Iszatt N, Kasper-Sonnenberg M, Kiviranta H, Kogevinas M, Palkovicova L, Ranft U, Schoeters G, Patelarou E, Petersen MS, Torrent M, Trnovec T, Valvi D, Toft GV, Weihe P, Weisglas-Kuperus N, Wilhelm M, Wittsiepe J, Vrijheid M, Bonde JP. Prenatal exposure to PCB-153, p,p'-DDE and birth outcomes in 9000 mother-child pairs: Exposure-response relationship and effect modifiers. Environ Int 2015; 74C: 23-31 (en Press).


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